On Tuesday Edward Enninful teased us with a glimpse of his Adwoa Abaoh-covered, debut issue of British Vogue and social media was shook. Publishing hasn’t seen such a positive response to a fashion magazine cover since Liz Tilberis’ re-launched Harpers Bazaar back in 1992 and went with Linda Evangelista for that iconic cover.
Since the April announcement of the first black editor-in-chief to helm a major international title, the countdown to Enninful’s inaugural issue has been with high-grade anticipation. Proclamations to “feature racial, age, gender and body diversity” and the placement of key contributors Naomi Campbell and Pat McGrath only added to the expectation. Whatever showed on the first cover would arrive with great fanfare. The frenzy whipped up this week however was more than a commentary on a strong photo than looks familiar while simultaneously signalling a new era. The selection of Abaoh, a mix-raced, bald, model of the moment, is a deliberate choice, loaded with symbolism that if we’re to go by the shout-outs and digital fist pumps on Instagram; it’s a representative new age.
When Linda Evangelista’s iconic profile pose covered Tilberis’ first Harpers Bazaar, it marked the advent of an “era of elegance” that said we’re serious about the aspirational fashion again. She welcomed back the culture that proposes a timeless, museum worthy image from the well-posed capture of a model’s profile. Enninful meanwhile seems to have delivered on his inclusive mandate in a single cover image without skimping on a hint fashion.
Beyond the hope that magazines aren’t dead, true beauty in fashion, some say, is in need of resurrecting . The dramatic, vaguely vintage, Pat McGrath makeup, on point turban and Steven Meisel lens captured beauty in full effect. But it’s the model Aboah who serves as more than a canvas for this image and she speaks loudest in the composition without uttering a word. Aboah has a look that represents many cultures and when she does speak she says, ”there is a newfound love and space for activism within fashion.” As designer Edward Buchanan suggests, “people are seeking another perspective and Adwoa really speaks for that right now.” Her selection as cover girl speaks volumes for beauty and fashion today.